20, left home for Brussels, craving change.
Got a job
in European Parliament,
covered my curves with a
pin-striped power suit,
and spent my days in a corner
drinking my coffee with cream and
writing speeches about change for
Lobbyists greeted me with kisses on both
commenting on the weather and my
while on our stoop, a Roma woman begged
change, snuggling her infant who howled,
a Windigo. Cold wind grew
icicles on the their
long, dark lashes.
Passed them quickly in the
cold— no change left—
all spent at
drunken pub talks about change.
I left you home
and traversed the Atlantic,
for a fix, a cure
for my restless soul syndrome.
drank all the Trappistes dry
and ate each every
bartenders shook their heads,
Guinness instead of Rochefort.
Neuhaus and Leonidas
boarded their windows—
I had to devour them
The flavors tasted richer than home,
with histories: of recipes, buildings,
to before America was called
My skin burst with gifts for you.
thought I could see the Manneken Pis
and send you all
of his silliness.
And I sent you the finest
chocolates and beers
to fill you with this history
but you said the chocolates
chocolates and the beers
tasted like beer, not
between Francophones and Flems.
tried collecting more gifts for you,
but I lost most
along the way.
One day I dropped my keys, drunk.
landlord said she'd have my head,
but she settled for
an arm and a leg.
I protested, But Madame, they were
These must come off, she said—
chop and half my limbs were gone
with two hacks of
the old surgeon's saw.
I tried to run away from
but crumpled under the weight
baggage full of gifts for you—
too much to
with just one arm and leg.
I thought we
a lovely kidney pie,
but beer had
too heavy, I left them by the
Because I knew the pangs
loneliness, I left them friends,
swollen and diseased
by my gluttony:
my liver, stomach, some
Hopefully some creature of the
found some sustenance.
guards seemed concerned
by my blood-stained
I tried to explain—I had gifts for
and was missing the Great Lakes and snow.
craved ketchup, not mayo with my fries and your
breath breathing down my neck at night.
they carried me out like a dirty diaper.
only one way to get these gifts to you
right, then left then—
sinking, sinking fast,
stinging my wounds.
Still too heavy
to walk on water—
I took off my
peeled off one strip at a time,
old floral wallpaper.
Stretched out and over
it was no real gift to give you.
A heap of
bones, skeletal, I tread
over the great Atlantic,
for you, for home, for English.
I saved a
few good parts.
I'll leave them on your doorstep:
heart, two ovaries, tits.
I brought these gifts for
celebrate their loveliness.
to Sleep in Brussels
3 AM in
Brussels. Back from the bar.
I rest my bones in a bed
Picture you: lying down, wrapping
body around the place I used to sleep
queen-sized mattress, the place
where I long to be.
A Teddy Graham
leaps from the yellow box,
me through the library corridors,
chuckling, I'll get you this time.
His fangs twinkle in the fluorescent lighting.
First, he goes for the legs—
he dunks my head in a tub of holy water:
Drink and be whole again!
saturated, I sink
heaviness of being.
Wake up whimpering. Try
two months ago I was safe. Your
like Old Spice. I was working on
trying to feel whole again. You were
your hands tracing the outline of an
along my side, fingers lingering at every
little perfection. You nestled your nose in my
Breathing slowly, softly—my favorite
lulls me to sleep again—
I am surrounded.
Sudanese, Bosnians, Iraqis, Cambodians—
everywhere, victims of genocide.
The undead—skeletons protruding
through gray skin, sunken cheeks, hacked up, bloody—
chanting: We'll get you this time!
Captured and blind folded,
a blade press against my jugular.
Nothing gold can stay!
They pry my
rings off my fingers.
earrings out. Shave my head.
me naked. Tattoo my forehead
a label I cannot see. Rape me.
The cool blade threatens closer. I smell
steel. But my pulse does not race. I am
a vision of calmness—an oasis. I'm
cut up, cut out.
to sink the blade into—
frenzy, this restless soul syndrome
shakes me from my
through my skin—leaving
shreds from the inside out.
Yes, I'm cold—
me up from head to toe.
Hide me from breezy looks.
listen to the old-style radiator clattering
the miles from here to you till dawn.